5 Dog Supplements You Must Know About

There are so many supplements for dogs out there, but which dog supplements does your furry friend truly need? A vet weighs in with the top dog supplements and some advice.
Dr. Ernie Ward | Mar 20th 2018


1. Omega-3 fatty acids

The first supplement I recommend for any dog, cat or person is an omega-3 fatty acid supplement. The omega-3 fatty acids DHA and EPA have been recognized as powerful brain fuels for nearly a hundred years. The best sources of DHA/EPA for dogs are oils from fish and algae. Omega-3 supplements may potentially improve learning and preserve memory and cognition, aid eyesight and the nervous system and combat harmful inflammation.
DHA/EPA is a dog supplement that’s also helpful in treating arthritis, allergies and many skin conditions. Pets fed dry commercial diets rich in omega-6 fatty acids benefit from daily omega-3 supplements. Adding DHA/EPA to your dog’s diet helps restore a healthier balance of omega-6 to omega-3. Dosage may vary widely and depends on the dog’s age, weight, diet and medical condition. I typically use pet omega-3 formulations and avoid supplements with added Vitamin D.
2. Glucosamine
Dog glucosamine products are everywhere: Television advertisements boast miraculous claims, pet store shelves overflow with choices, and social media stories are abundant. But where there’s hype and hope, there’s also hoax. How can you tell the difference? I’ve been an advocate of glucosamine for decades, but I’ve become increasingly wary of some of the products.
One of the first things I look for when choosing dog supplements is the National Animal Supplement Council (NASC) seal. NASC was established in 2002 to ensure quality and reduce risk for animal nutraceuticals. Next, is the company reputable and trustworthy? Can I speak to someone about ingredient sources, research and quality control? Finally, is there evidence to support usage? Veterinary formulations of glucosamine have been well-researched and have earned my trust. Talk with your veterinarian about the best glucosamine supplement for your dog.
3. Probiotics
I attended a special nutritional conference focused on probiotic research for humans and dogs last summer. A team of Harvard scientists impressed the audience with multiple studies proving probiotics’ positive health impacts in humans and animals. Improved digestive health, enhanced immunity and preventing many diseases were just a few of the potential benefits.
I left feeling validated and committed to promoting probiotics for my pet patients, especially those being boarded, stressed, undergoing anesthesia or with GI problems. I advise using a veterinary formulation or whole food probiotic containing at least one billion CFUs (colony forming units) daily.
4. S-Adenosylmethionine
SAMe, an anti-inflammatory supplement, is used primarily in dogs with liver disease, cognitive decline and arthritis. In humans, SAMe is also used to improve mood and combat depression and Alzheimer’s, and some veterinarians use it in certain behavioral conditions. I recommend SAMe for older pets with declining mental function, liver problems, toxin exposure and as part of my arthritis treatment. I only use special veterinary formulations proven to be properly absorbed. These products have a special coating that prevents stomach acid breakdown.
5. L-carnitine
I’ve recommended carnitine to my canine patients for years as an aid in weight loss, heart disease and to support brain function in older pets. (I also take it.) Dosing can range from 100 milligrams to 2 grams per day, based on the dog’s individual needs. Before I prescribe it, I always check for hypothyroidism, due to carnitine’s potential to impair thyroid hormone function. When treating obesity or heart disease, I often combine with omega-3, coenzyme Q10 and taurine.
Other dog supplements to know
These are only a few of the most common dog supplements your veterinarian may recommend. I’d also add turmeric, B vitamins, medicinal mushrooms, MSM (methylsulfonylmethane) … the list can grow. My best advice is to talk with your veterinarian, determine your pet’s needs, and focus on a few supplements that make the most sense for your dog. Look for the NASC seal, ask for peer-reviewed studies, and investigate the manufacturer. What you choose to feed — and supplement — is the most important health decision you make for your dog each day.
Don’t overdo it when it comes to dog supplements

Thumbnail: Photography by Holly Hildreth Photography.
Dr. Ernie Ward is an internationally recognized veterinarian known for his innovations in general small-animal practice, long-term medication monitoring, special needs of senior dogs and cats and pet obesity. He has authored three books and has been a frequent guest on numerous TV programs.


14 Ways to Deal With Muddy and Dirty Paws

How do you handle the dirty paws and muddy paws that come along with winter’s final snow and ice storms and spring showers? Check out our tips!

Here are a few tips we can all use to help combat dirty paws during the winter to spring transition:

1. Restrict access to muddy places.Dog-paws-and-human-rain-boots-in-mud.jpg

Cut back on dirty paws by stopping your pup from digging in the yard and fencing off any areas that can get muddy, like flower beds.

2. Make a wash station.

Inside the door of your entry area, keep a big, washable rug and a basket of dog towels. For wet days, you may want to add a hair dryer.

3. Keep wipes in the car.

Cleaning dirty paws in the car not only makes getting into the house easier, but it also helps keep your car clean.

4. Condition your dog to foot touching.

Not all pups like their feet touched. Until he’s familiar with getting wiped down, take it slow, and use lots of encouragement and treats.

5. Shampoo and moisturize those dirty paws.

Because you’ll be wiping your dog’s paws at least once a day, use a gentle soap. Try dry shampoo or one that’s used for show dogs and safe to be used daily. Finish off with a paw conditioner or moisturizer.

6. Get some dog booties.

The right “shoes” can help keep your pup from bringing in dirt and mud. Choose booties meant for the type of outdoor activity your pup is doing, and take it slow at first. Use positive reinforcement to make it a good experience.

7. Try indoor socks.

Get your dog the equivalent of bedroom slippers. This is especially helpful on laminate floors that tend to pick up paw prints easily.

8. Keep things trimmed.

Don’t just trim your dog’s nails. Keep an eye out for any hair poking out between the pads. Trimming that back will not only make any cleaning effort easier but will cut down on the amount of dirt that your pup picks up.

9. Do some basic training.

Teaching your dog the “sit, stay” cue will help a lot! He may have the urge to run through your living room and expensive rugs, but a well-trained pup will stay put when told. “Walk around” or “go in a circle” commands can help get your dog to dry off his own paws on your entry mat.

10. Meet microfiber.

There is such a thing as a paw-cleaning mitt! Google it! This glove is usually covered with microfiber material that grabs onto the dirt or mud and is easy to wash. Simple microfiber cloths work, too.

11. Let floor covers do the work for you.

Put an absorbent mat outside the door, and add a runner inside that your dog must walk on. This should help brush off dirt and help dry paws.

12. Protect those paws.

Put natural dog wax products on your pup’s paws before you head outside. The wax barrier will help keep dirt and mud from getting too deep into the fur and sides of the paw pads.

13. Save your furniture.

A cover on your sofa and other furniture that you can easily take off and wash can help if your dog enjoys lying on them and rubbing his dirty feet all over the place.

14. Be careful of salt/sand.


Material like salt or sand that is used on snow and ice can be trouble. Wipe all this off your dog’s dirty paws as soon as possible. Not only will it keep your dog from ingesting it when he licks his feet, it also keeps that abrasive material off your floors.

Cleaning tips for dirty or muddy paw prints:

  1. For small areas of grout, try using the eraser of a No. 2 pencil.
  2. For tougher grout stains, use special grout cleaning products or a paste made of baking soda and water. Apply with a tooth- brush or grout cleaning brush.
  3. Sweep any hard surface before you mop.
  4. Daily mopping with warm water should work for most paw prints.
  5. If you do use a cleaning solution or vinegar on your floor, go over once more with plain water and a dry mop to finish.
  6. On carpet, let the mud dry to make cleaning easier.
  7. Dry mud on carpet should be vacuumed up slowly first. Hit the mud at all angles, and take your time.
  8. When doing your final cleanup on carpet, blot, don’t rub, so you don’t harm the fibers.
  9. Remove tracked-in water from flooring as soon as possible.